The Indianapolis Colts will close out their preseason Thursday night (August 30th) against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts are currently 1-2 in the preseason and haven't won since their 38-3 victory over the St. Louis Rams back on August 12th.
The Colts have been surprising in their first two games, but took some steps back on Saturday afternoon against Washington. The game was hyped for the big matchup of Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. The Colts showed some major flaws that they will need to address and we'll see if they can get that corrected before the regular season starts.
These are the top five things to watch for Thursday night against the Bengals.
The Colts' offensive line played really well in the first two games of the preseason. Against Washington though, they struggled mightily. They gave up more sacks on Saturday against the Redskins than they did in the entire preseason entering their third preseason game.
It seemed like the line couldn't block the Redskins blitz's and pass rush schemes and will need to get that addressed quickly. They can't get much success this season when they struggle to keep Luck off the turf.
That's why it's important to see what they can do against Cincinnati and take the improvements to the regular season. If they can't get this corrected, it may be a longer season that we thought in Indy.
The new 3-4 scheme was supposed to help against the rush. In the first two games, the Colts did stop the run pretty well. They weren't great, but it was definitely an improvement.
Against Washington, the defense took five steps back and looked as bad, if not worse, than last year in stopping the run. With playing some of the best running backs in the league this year in Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Chris Johnson, Arian Foster and Shonn Greene, they could be in for a long season if they can't stop them.
At Washington, they gave up more than seven yards-per-carry. That sets up failure for the offense in putting them in a shootout situation and a long Sunday.
The Colts need a better effort out of the rush defense on Thursday. It should be interesting to watch to see if they can accomplish that goal.
The Colts acquired cornerback Vontae Davis from Miami on Sunday. It will be interesting to see what he can do in a Colts uniform. Indianapolis needed a cornerback to start opposite side of Jerraud Powers and they found that the player they needed wasn't on the current roster—so they made a trade for Davis.
Davis only had three days of practice to get used to the system. and it will be intriguing to see what he can accomplish in such short preparation. I think this move will pan out, but I want to see what Davis can do for the Colts.
We saw the starters get the most time of the preseason against Washington, and against Cincinnati on Wednesday is when they should be getting the shortest amount of reps.
Most teams don't want to get their starters hurt in the finale, so they run them out on the field for a few possessions and shut them down.
I'm curious to what our starters can do and how much production they can have. They struggled against Washington; now they need a big game to build momentum going into the regular season. Cincinnati is a good, young team that made the playoffs last season and should be a good measuring stick to play against in preparation for the regular season.
Usually, the last preseason game is played for coaches to finalize their final 53-man roster. The starters don't get much reps, but the guys on the bubble can either play to make the team or play their way off the team.
Wednesday night will be the final audition before the roster has to be cut down to 53 this weekend. With the final five to six spots being so close, the competition should be fierce between the guys to make the regular-season roster.
I think that the competition for the roster space will be more interesting to watch rather than the one against the Bengals. There is so much at stake to be a part of this new-look Colts, and many guys have a shot to play their way into the roster.